Hello, I’m Lesley, I’m childless and I’m living a very fulfilling and joyful life.
But it wasn’t always this way
I’ve been where you are
I’m married to Roger, and I always assumed I’d be a mother. We started to try for children when I was 35 and when nothing had happened after a few months we were referred for IVF. Over the next three years we went through six unsuccessful rounds, stopping when I was 40.
We knew we needed to draw a line in the sand but it was incredibly hard. We were never offered support or help of any kind and felt as if we were the only people in the world who couldn’t have children. Only our parents knew and most of our friends had children so talking to them felt impossible.
My 40th birthday was a low point. I felt completely alone; I didn’t know who I was or my place in the world. I felt like a caterpillar in a cocoon that didn’t know what sort of butterfly it was going to become. I know now that I was grieving, but I didn’t know then. I just assumed I was sad. I didn't know how to feel, so on the outside I projected the Lesley who was ambivalent about children, the Lesley who was tough and strong.
After hibernating for a year we joined More To Life (MTL) and met some couples who have become our closest friends. I slowly started to get my life back together, and still felt sad. Then my life fell apart again when Roger’s dad died, followed a few months later by my mum.
Now I knew I was grieving and did what I’d always done, which was to box it away. And there it stayed. I just carried on and sadness became my new norm.
When I was 47 I resigned from my job. I had no idea who I was and what I wanted, but I knew it wasn’t that. I trained as a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner, then set up a coaching business to help women in midlife. I wanted to support childless women but didn't feel strong enough to do it because it meant being open about my story and myself.
Sometimes it takes a big jolt
Then one day, as I was reading Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, these words jumped out at me
They absolutely jolted me to the core as I realised how perfectly they described my life. I was standing on the outside, hiding my true self. And it hurt. A lot.
(I’m going to take a guess and suggest that they describe your life too. You know I feel your pain.)
They also gave me the courage to reach out and work with a coach who supported me in changing my business to support childless women.
I’m okay now
I thought, yes now I’m showing up in my life, job done.
In 2014 my dad died after a short illness. I did what I’d always done and boxed that grief away as well.
And there it stayed.
Until it didn’t.
Because (as I’ve learned the hard way), one way or another, grief will find its way out.
But I wasn’t
I did not want to feel my pain and went through some dark times before I accepted that the only way to get to joy was through grief. I started to work with a therapist who helped me with my grief work and many other things.
Throughout this time, when I was still, I could hear a quiet voice, maybe it was my unconscious, or intuition, an inner knowing, something was calling me.
After writing my book and digging deep into the work of each chapter I realise that voice was my soul calling. It was calling me to grieve, to let go, to connect with my body, to write, to truly accept myself, to be grateful for everything and to find joy. And mostly it was calling me to fully show up in my life.
Bracelets, blue nails and leopard skin boots
I realise now that there are many gifts to be found in the pain, and the biggest gift is finding my true self.
Now, having done the work I am a completely different person. Well maybe not completely different, I am now, eventually the true, authentic Lesley. The Lesley who wears bracelets and leopard skin boots and paints her nails blue. The old Lesley would never have considered any of these things, but the new me is happy to experiment and play with different looks and ideas.
I am finally comfortable in my own skin and confident when I say that ‘I absolutely love my life, the adventures I’m having and I’m excited about what will happen next.’
You can have this too
It’s not just me who has walked this path, others have too. This is why I’ve written “Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness”. In it you will read how I and 19 other women found their way to a fulfilling life when their dream of motherhood didn’t come true.
We are the same as you, so when I say you can have this too, I absolutely mean it.
I think you know this already. I believe your unconscious, intuition or inner knowing wants this for you.
Perhaps you’re making too much noise to hear it, or maybe you don’t want to listen because, although you don’t like where you are now (and who you are now), staying stuck is more comfortable than taking action.
What’s your choice, dear reader, stay where you are, being miserable or take action and start to move towards the fulfilling life which is yours for the taking.
And if you’re not sure, be still for a few moments and listen to what is pulling on your soul.
What I love about my life.
In addition to experimenting with bracelets and painting my nails different colours, the work I did to write the book reconnected me to my creativity so I’ve rediscovered how much I enjoy sewing. I also love photography and, with the exception of my headshots, all the images here are mine.
Singing brings me great joy and I love being part of Rockchoir. I enjoy walking in the country, reading and cookery. Practicing Yin Yoga has created a fabulous relationship with my body so I’m more flexible than I’ve ever been. Not just that, on the mat, I’ve let go so much of the grief I was holding on to for years.
I love to travel and we’re grateful to have had many amazing travel experiences. That freedom and flexibility extends to other areas; we both pursue our own interests, we can decide at the last minute to go out for the evening or the day.
I am very grateful for the joy in my life and the opportunities life brings.
I intend to life my life to the fullest. What about you?